Feng-Shui and how to use it
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February 16, 2011
By Michael Erlewine (Michael@Erlewine.net)

Feng shui is more and more becoming recognized as an important kind of awareness to have. The phrase "feng shui" literally means “wind-water” in English and comes from an ancient Chinese burial book called the Zangshu and this line:
“Chi rides the wind and scatters, but is retained when it encounters water.”

I am sure most of you reading this know that feng shui has to do with the placement and orientation of objects in space, in particular in the space immediately surrounding you – local space. But what is feng shui and how can we become sensitive to it?

The simple answer is that you already are sensitive, but may not be aware of that sensitivity. Feng shui, aside from traditional rules and admonitions is above all personal. It is about how you and I respond to the space around us. It is about how we try to become comfortable in our own space.

Years ago I read many books on feng-shui and was perhaps beginning to get the hang of it, but at that point it was still anything but intuitive for me. I wanted to understand it. Then we had a visit at our dharma center from of a very high Tibetan lama, a rinpoche. The word “rinpoche” means “precious one” and he was.

This was the Very Venerable Tai Situ Rinpoche, one of the highest lamas in the Karma Kagyu Lineage of Tibetan Buddhism. As it turned out, he loved feng-shui too and spoke of it freely as he toured with us through our home. Rinpoche could not help but point out various feng-shui observations as we walked around. For example, he commented that our bed was between the doorway and the window. He remarked that all that Qi moving across the bed could possibly affect us in a harmful way. Both my wife and I had experienced neck and shoulder problems while the bed was there. This was, of course, helpful. We moved the bed and the problems actually went away.

But the real message I received from my time with Tai Situ Rinpoche was not this or that observation. It was more general than that. By some osmosis-like process, perhaps just being with him and focusing on feng-shui, I suddenly began to really understand what feng-shui was all about. It was almost like he gave us the transmission for this. I suddenly got it and I want to share that here with you.

Feng-shui is really quite simple, nothing more than using plain common sense, what is right before our eyes all the time. All we really have to do is to start being more aware of what we are already sensing and feeling. For example, I have a front hallway just inside the entrance to our home. In it was a floor-to-ceiling bookshelf crammed with books that kind of choked the entryway. I had always been vaguely aware that this entryway made me feel a little uncomfortable each time I came in. It was like a shadow that crossed my mind as I passed through it, but I always shrugged it off. I ignored it.

Now, as I began to develop this new awareness, I realized that my mind kind of winces at many things, all the time. Another example: there was a tall lamp just outside my office door that stuck out almost at eye level. It too made me wince or pull back without my consciously being aware

of it every time I walked by. I would not let myself respond to something this subtle. I ignored it, but it took its toll on my psyche.

It is like going to the dentist. We never notice our teeth until something is wrong. If I feel a tooth is a little uncomfortable, just a little bit now, that is a sure sign I will be at the dentist very soon. When all is well, I am just not aware of my teeth or jaw. They just work and I pay them no mind. Feng-shui is like that. We need to learn to pay attention to the slightest twinges in our awareness and respond by doing something about it.

As I became more aware of my environment, I started to catch these little winces and grimaces we make all the time. These are little mind shadows that sweep over us like a cloud passes over a bright meadow on a summer day. Most are fleeting but as we become more aware of them we can see what it is that causes them and correct that. Many small changes add up to a more peaceful mind.

My point here is that whatever books you may have on feng-shui will contain all kinds of specific examples of what you should or should not do to improve your environment. Of course these suggestions should be considered carefully. More important, however, is the development of your own awareness so that you can start being sensitive to what you are already registering in your mind anyway but perhaps up to now have only experienced at an unconscious or semi- conscious level.

Once you begin to make these subtle shocks and warnings conscious your sense of feng-shui will improve radically and without ever opening a book. In fact this awareness is more important to develop than any books on feng-shui. Once you have it, you will be able to do feng-shui analysis automatically all day long, if you should choose. Without it, you will be only following what is told to you in books. We need both, our own awareness and the instructions from teachers and books.

And speaking of books, here is a free e-book “The Art of Feng Shui” that I wrote some years ago. It is 563 pages long and has over 500 full-color illustrations. For those of you who want to learn more about the traditional concepts of feng shui, this may be helpful as you also develop your sensitivity.


Also the book “Training the Mind” on the same page may be helpful to develop your awareness and sensitivity to the space surrounding you.
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